The Oldie Literary Lunches have become a venerable institution on the London literary scene since they were first launched in 1996. Held monthly at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, the lunches feature three speakers who each address the audience for ten minutes. A delicious three-course lunch with wine accompanies the talks.

To book tickets call Katherine or Jenny on 01225 42 73 11 between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Monday-Friday. 

Tickets cost £62


Click here to listen in on our previous lunches


Upcoming Lunches


15th September


Virginia Nicholson on Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes

The great niece of Virginia Woolf, Nicholson’s histories Singled Out

and Millions Like Us depict the impact of the First and Second World

Wars on women. Perfect Wives moves into the next decade of the

Fifties, ‘a decade when marriage seemed unassailable and femininity

carried the imperative of a life force.’

Richard Davenport-Hines on Universal Man:

The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes

Davenport-Hines, authority on subjects from poet WH Auden to

the Profumo Affair, turns his eye to the twentieth century’s great

economist John Maynard Keynes. By exploring those ‘seven lives’ –

altruist, boy prodigy, official, public man, lover, connoisseur and

envoy – Davenport-Hines shows how Keynes became so influential,

and why he remains so seventy years later.

Matthew Rice on Rice’s Church Primer

Illustrator Rice is the architecture enthusiast behind the lavishly

illustrated Village Buildings of Britain and Rice’s Architectural Primer.

His latest work explains the language of church architecture, from

the restrained Norman style of William the Conqueror to the gilded

excesses of the Baroque, while his ceramic designs for wife

Emma Bridgewater can be found in kitchens across Britain.


24th September



Oliver Kamm on Accidence will Happen:

The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage

As a journalist, Oliver Kamm is used to having his grammar corrected

into incoherence. His latest grammar book provides a welcome antidote

to pedantry, proving that many so-called linguistic ‘rules’ may be

abandoned, and that it is not a crime to wantonly split an infinitive.

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst on The Story of Alice:

Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland. 

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, whose previous works include the exhaustive

biography Becoming Dickens, here explores another Victorian giant of

literature, Lewis Carroll. In the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland’s

publication, Douglas-Fairhurst considers the relationship between the

controversial children’s author and his ‘dream-child’ Alice Liddell.  

Harry Mount on Harry Mount's Odyssey: Ancient

Greece in the Footsteps of Odysseus

Several millennia after the Homeric hero undertook his journey,

Harry Mount – whose Amo, Amas Amat… and All That convinced

readers to ‘put a little Latin in your life’ – followed Odysseus’s epic

trail. His Odyssey recounts his voyage from Troy to the Hellespont,

and shows why Ancient Greece was truly the greatest civilisation.


13th October


Blake Morrison on Shingle Street 

Blake Morrison first won acclaim for his memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? In his first full–length collection of poems for nearly thirty years, Shingle Street addresses everything from the Suffolk coast to urgent political issues and dear figures of the past.

Loyd Grossman on Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern

Conservationist and gastronome Loyd Grossman tells the extraordinary tale of Benjamin West, the celebrated Pennsylvania-born artist of the 18th century who rose through the ranks of British artists to become the second president of the Royal Academy. Most famous for The Death of General Wolfe, West inspired a generation of British and American artists.

Kwasi Kwarteng on War and Gold: A Five–Hundred–Year History of Empires, Adventures and Debt 

Historian and politician Kwasi Karteng has frequently been praised for his originality when analysing historical events, particularly for his first book Ghosts of Empire. In his new work, Kwarteng chronicles the fiscal devastation and finally reclamation to which the world has been victim since the sixteenth century.


10th November


Patrick Bishop on The Cooler King

Patrick Bishop has spent twenty-six years covering conflicts around the world, and has reported from the front line of almost every major war of our era. Author of Fighter Boys, his new work tells the story of William Ash, an American flier who spent WWII defying the Nazis and escaping every POW camp he was incarcerated in.

Charles Moore on Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume Two: Everything She Wants 

Charles Moore was chosen by Thatcher herself as her biographer of choice before her death. Since then, he has published two comprehensive volumes on the Iron Lady, praised for characterising her childhood as well as her role as Britain’s first female Prime Minister. He will return to Simpsons to talk about volume two.

Stephen Clarke on How the French Won Waterloo – or Think They Did

Stephen Clarke, author of A Thousand years of Annoying the French settled in Paris over a decade ago, and has been sharing his observations of the French ever since. He still has qualms about certain French attitudes, which he puts to paper in his new book How the French Won Waterloo – or Think They Did, painting the French version of Wellington and Blücher’s victory in 1815.


17th November in **BRIGHTON**


Alison Weir on The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox

Alison Weir has published 21 books and sold more than 2.7 million copies, making her the biggest-selling woman historian in the UK. Her latest novel examines the extraordinary life of Margaret Douglas, the royal Tudor who lived a life of scandal, imprisonment, drama and tragedy. We are delighted to welcome her back to an Oldie Literary lunch. 

Flora Fraser on The Washingtons

Grand-daughter of Elizabeth Longford and daughter of Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser has been keeping the family business going for many years. She has now turned her hand to American history with a full-scale portrayal of the marriage of the father and mother of America, and the struggle for Independence, which was led by them.

Piers Paul Read on Scarpia

We are delighted to welcome back this prolific author. Piers Paul Read’s latest novel reimagines the life of Vitellio Scarpia, the dreadful villain from Puccini’s Tosca. With a backdrop of 18th-century Rome, we follow him from disgrace and penury to his fatal clinch with Tosca, whom he ruined. 


8th December


Sir Jonathan Miller on On Further Reflection 

Jonathan Miller’s careers are as multifarious as his writing topics. His new book encompasses his journalism of the past sixty years, spanning everything from mesmerism to neurology, film and theatre to art history and parody and wit to reportage.

Sir Ian Kershaw on To Hell and Back

Ian Kershaw is regarded by many as one of the world’s leading experts on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. His latest work focuses on the effects and consequences faced by Europe when it was plunged into two disastrous World Wars, which tore apart the continent’s politics, beliefs and humanity.

Tom Holland on Dynasty, The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Classicist and historian Tom Holland’s books include Persian Fire and Rubicon, of which Dynasty is the prequel. It provides an exuberant portrait of Rome’s first imperial dynasty, from the brilliant marble capital rebuilt by Augustus to the dark forests of barbarians, and the crimes and treachery encompassing them all.

15th December


Paul Willetts on Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms

Paul Willetts, the chronicler of Soho and Fitzrovia, has dug up a spy story as unlikely but as true as Triple Cross, Ben Macintyres best-selling tale of Eddie Chapman. The protagonists include a White Russian Nazi spy and a US embassy code clerk who is also a Soviet agent.

Jonathan Fenby on The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the Present Day

Having spent over a decade as the Reuters bureau chief in Paris, Jonathan Fenby explores the tempestuous history of modern France in his new book The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the Present Day

Gyles Brandreth on Wordplay

Gyles Brandreth, the star performer of our Christmas lunch who would entertain if he read from Yellow Pages, reveals why he is such a star on Just a Minute: prepare for a  linguistic frenzy of palindromes, mnemonics, malapropos and acronyms.


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